Before I make my first (and probably last) post on MHR, I wanted to thank all of those who maintain, contribute and argue vehemently daily to make this website the one I visit quite literally more than any other. (And I visit a lot of sites).
I’ve been living in Denver now for 12 years, having moved from Australia. I was an avid Australian Rules Football fan back home, and - like many of you on this site – my mood of the week totally depended on how my team (Collingwood) had performed the prior weekend. I grew up listening to games on an AM radio in my parents’ bedroom, consumed with either agony or ecstasy, bouncing all over the room. When they started ‘delayed coverage’ of games I would return home from part-time work at a McDonalds, having avoided all news, only to be disappointed when my Dad would totally give away the end result by either refusing the watch the game or bouncing around the lounge himself before it had come on the TV.
If there was one thing I learned early on, it was how much the roar of the crowd was really what (for me) separated sporting events from any other form of entertainment. I remember clearly watching Saverio Rocca (ironically the oldest NFL Rookie ever recruited, for the Eagles, now a Redskin) kicking 9 goals in front of 94,000 people in 1995 – in a tied game. That game (Anzac Cup) has been played every year since, and 2 years ago I took my Colorado-born wife to watch my team – winning with 20 seconds left – end up losing in front of 84,000. Losing was bad – but the roar of the crowd in those final moments made it (almost) worth it.
When I moved to the States, I loved the fact that an entire city (mostly) was behind one team. How could you not get caught up in any team when the whole room/bar/stadium/city was following it? I’m a social
drunk drinker at the best of times, so high-fiving a complete stranger was nothing new. Now I actually had a valid, compelling reason to do so – with an entire city.
Over the years I’ve developed an addiction to NFL that has surprised me in its intensity, and my wife, whom I’m sure thought she’d dodged a bullet marrying a foreigner. Instead, she has a grumpy Australian to deal with storming the house - especially last season.
Part of this addiction is definitely to do with the fans – and the electricity that a motivated, rabid fanbase (like at MHR ) brings to every game. While I don’t have season tickets – (in the past couldn’t have afforded them, and now have a kid with another due any day now) – I grab every opportunity to use my in-laws tickets, and over time I’ve been lucky enough to see some fantastic games, including some where the crowd took a great experience and amplified it a hundred times over. Here are some more recent ones you probably all remember:-
- 2008 vs SD at home – (BTW – it was a *great* dead ball call by the Ref). My folks had flown in from Oz 2 days prior – but I wasn’t going to miss this game. That morning, I spent explaining the rules to them while watching a game – I think it was KC vs Raiders, and it was a slow game, but I told them "Our Quarterback likes to throw, you’ll see" before heading off to the game. That last 2-pt conversion – Cutler to Royal – the roar of the crowd was insane. When I got home, my folks told me they literally leapt into the air – they were now NFL fans. They still love Cutler, (and Marshall), and refuse to be talked out of their adoration.
- 2009 – again vs SD at home - Chris Simms was standing in for Kyle Orton, but had botched some plays so bad I was ready to put on my best fake accent and give it a shot. Say what you will about Orton now- but back then, the roar of the crowd when he came on the field that day with a dodgy ankle was like the second coming. Even bigger when he took it down the field on the next plays (only for us to lose it at the 1-yard line). It was a big loss – but that moment when he came on the field really stands out to me, especially with all the controversy swirling now.
- 2010 vs KC at home – Could we do no wrong? That game was one big crowd roar. A bit of Orton, a bit of Tebow, and a lot of everyone else.
- 2010 vs Texans at home. I went to this game with the husband of one my wife’s friends. You know, the person you really get along with, but don’t get a chance to see that often enough to consider a super close mate. I'd jokingly - a few beers in - suggested we'd come back, and when Tebow ran that touchdown in, right underneath us, we were hugging and in tears. In all my years of watching sports – I’d never been part of a crowd going so nuts. The chants of "Tebow" continued all the way down the ramps, out the door, to the light rail station, and right into my home. And I’m still cheering.
- 2010 vs SD at home. After the week prior, I was hyped for this game, like the whole city. And even though a lot of the crowd had left by the end (along with my voice) – I still thought we had a chance, and that roar when the last throw went up …. (maybe as much a gasp perhaps?).. again – made it all worth it.
There’s others I remember when I wasn’t actually at the game – while waiting for a pediatrician with a sick kid (yup, on a Sunday), listening outside to the car radio when Stokely got that tipped pass – the roar was so loud through the radio you could barely hear Dave Logan calling him in, as I thumped the steering wheel in joy……. the Patriots game a few weeks later in bar in Atlanta with my boss, surrounded by obnoxious NE Fans, wishing I’d made that $100 bet with the worst one..… (and speaking of NE – that run of Champ’s down the boundary a few years earlier)… ah, the crowd.
I know this game is about the cold hard stats, points, and most importantly the wins. And so I know we needed a defensive-minded coach, needed to improve the run, and need to field a team most likely to win.
But selfishly, foolishly, irresponsibly and recklessly, I want our team to be one that makes the crowd roar just as badly. Am I alone?